Six days of running, jumping, lifting, and squatting in Indianapolis ended yesterday, highlighted by a middle-aged sportscaster running 40 yards in just over six seconds. Now we can go about the business of using numbers generated by only mildly important events to apply whatever pre-determined bias we had towards this year’s draft prospects.
By now you know about Robert Griffin III’s impressive 40-yard dash time, the fact that Andrew Luck showed up and did anything, and Dontari Poe’s imitation of a speeding MAC truck. So let’s review the performances of other players whose names don’t already live in households with three brief, convenient categories.
Guys that impressed
1. Kirk Cousins (QB, Michigan State)
Early in the draft process Cousins has widely been pegged as a mid-round pick, likely in the third round. But Andrew Luck and Griffin chose not to throw, which turned the focus towards the likes of Cousins and Brandon Weeden. Cousins showed pro-ready mechanics and a tight delivery, prompting the boys over at the Phinsider to endorse him as a fall back option if their Dolphins whiff in free agency, and in their possible pursuit of a trade to land Griffin.
2. Janoris Jenkins (CB, North Alabama)
There’s immense promise and potential here, but it’s difficult to see behind the massive, looming red flags. Every year there’s a highly-rated prospect who’s dogged by the “character issues” label throughout the entire draft evaluation process. Last year it was Jimmy Smith, and his drug issues prompted a tumble, but he still stayed in the first round and was selected by Baltimore. This year it’s easily Jenkins, who demonstrated this week at the Combine that there’s nothing wrong with his on-field skills when he ran the 40 in 4.46 seconds, and his 10-yard split was the fastest in his position group.
Along with Johnson below, Jenkins has the skills to be the next cornerback taken after Claiborne and Kirkpatrick. Now he just needs to stay away from marijuana and bar fights. He used the Combine interview process as an opportunity to shed a few of those red flags, impressing coaches and GMs with his honesty and outlook towards the future.
3. Josh Robinson (CB, Central Florida)
Although we consistently moaned about the relevancy of events that we watched over the weekend in Indy, the 40-yard dash is at least mildly important for wide receivers and cornerbacks. At 4.33, Robinson posted the fastest time, and barring a stumble during his Pro Day and any private workouts, he’ll compete closely to be that third cornerback off the board.
Guys that did exactly what we expected
1. Morris Claiborne (CB, LSU)
The really fast guys waited until the final day of the Combine, and Claiborne was only moderately fast compared to his position peers, topping out at 4.47 in the 40-yard dash. But that’s fine, because two years ago Joe Haden was slower and ran a 4.58. Now he’s one of the league’s best young cornerbacks, and he’s chillin’ with Erin Andrews.
2. David DeCastro (G, Stanford)
DeCastro showed during the 40-yard dash that he can’t run fast (5.43), but any play that requires an offensive lineman to run 40 yards down field is rather doomed and ill-conceived. DeCastro demonstrated his mobility and quickness during the three-cone drill, finishing with the highest time among his fellow linemen (7.3), and he should easily be a first-round pick.
3. Nick Perry (DE, USC)
Perry is beastly, but we knew that. And now we really, really know it after he posted the top marks among defensive ends in the broad jump and vertical leap. Perry had 9.5 sacks during his final year at USC, and he’s now vaulted himself into the first round according to at least one prominent draftnik.
Guys that didn’t impress
1. Kendall Wright (WR, Baylor)
Wright’s lack of quickness and burst at the Combine is concerning. He ran a 4.61 in the 40, which is significantly slower than his past times that have hovered around 4.45. His poor time was largely due to a stumbling start, which could be viewed as a lack of acceleration, or maybe he’s just not a track star and isn’t good at flying out from a sprinting stance.
Thankfully, receivers never line up for a play with their feet planted in starting blocks.
2. Russell Wilson (QB, Wisconsin)
Wilson is mobile, athletic, and elusive, meaning he could be a poor man’s Griffin in this draft. But his problem at the Combine was out of his control, and he can only blame the heavens or whichever God he believes in for a possible draft tumble.
During his Combine measurements–which, aside from the interviews, are the most important part of the Underwear Olympics–Wilson stood at only 5’11″. There’s been great advancements in the effort to shatter the small quarterback stereotype, and they’ve been led by Drew Brees. But Brees set the short guy bar at 6’0″.
3. Vontaze Burfict (LB, Arizona State)
What an absolute mess. Burfict was the only linebacker who wasn’t capable of running 40 yards in a straight line in less than five seconds. Then, with concerns about his character and attitude already lurking, Burfict should have taken a more diplomatic approach, and he should have at least faked being a team player during his interviews. Instead he openly criticized his coaches at Arizona State and blamed them for messing him up.